Monday, December 31, 2007

State of the Blog

I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew by focusing on the entire Washington Post. There are many days when I don't even really have time to read the Post, let alone come up with an intelligent response to anything in it. So I'm restricting my focus to the comics. My goal is to write about the best and worst comics for all 365 days of 2008. This should be a manageable goal, as long as I stay on top of it. I also hope to track the number of times each comic appears as a best, worst, or runner-up, and amuse myself with this information. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Comics of the Day

Worst: What bothers me about this strip is the fact that Connie seems upset about spoiling Jeremy. But of course she has agency in this problem. If she pampers her kid too much, she must accept that he is going to expect to be pampered. Any kid old enough to get a learner's permit is old enough to handle his own water. The comics are rife with poor parenting.

Runners-up: Family Circus (the split dialogue is very awkward, Dolly looks like a complete idiot), Hagar the Horrible, Blondie, Red and Rover, Rhymes with Orange, Mother Goose and Grimm, Close to Home, Beetle Bailey, For Better or For Worse, Tank MacNamara (if an outfield did nothing well but made no mistakes, they could be average), Agnes

No comic really jumped out at me today, but this is my winner. I'm intrigued by the potential plot developments here. BD once thought about having an affair with Melissa. Could Garry Trudeau be revisiting that idea? Might BD become a therapist? Am I reading to much into this? Anyway, I found BD's response in panel four to be kind of sweet. In general, I don't think Doonesbury has gotten enough love on my blog because it's often not that funny. But it excels in character development and storytelling. It's definitely one of the better strips out there.

Runners-up: Get Fuzzy, Pooch Cafe, Curtis (I like the weather and warrants permitting line), Dennis the Menace (not bad today, which exceeds expectations, so it earns a runner-up nod)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Comics of the Day

Worst: Dumb punch line, awkward set-up, mediocre art. We have a winner.

Runners-up: Speed Bump, Red and Rover (fart jokes are the last refuge of the unfunny), Hagar the Horrible, Blondie


Awesome on so many levels.

Runners-up: Baby Blues, Pearls Before Swine, Garfield (Elf slapping: the next Olympic sport?), Frazz

Comics of the Day, Sunday


Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't find very poor parenting to be funny.

Runners-up: Blondie, Single and Looking, Family Circus


The expression on Satchel's face in the last panel is priceless.

Runners-up: Zits (I liked the blort! sound effect), Doonesbury (Zonker's line "many of them profitable" is great),Candorville, Garfield, Lio, Opus, Pearls Before Swine, Agnes, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! (this is really a one joke strip (Brewster is stupid), but it's a joke that still amuses me for some reason)

Comics of the Day, Saturday

Worst: Not something I want to think about on my comics page.

Runners-up: Close to Home, Mother Goose and Grimm, Red and Rover


Again the best part is not the punch line. Bucky's line "You are but bubble wrap unto the block that is my head," made me laugh.

Runners-up: Lio, Agnes, Pooch Cafe, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!, Sherman's Lagoon, For Better or For Worse (I love how Francoise calls Anthony and Liz out on their patheticness)

Comics of the Day, Friday

Worst: I worry about remaining objective about For Better or For Worse. Sometimes I think I have picked up an anti-Foob mindset from the gang at Comics Curmudgeon, and read the strip looking for things to dislike about it. But Anthony's logic strikes me as kind of manipulative. His argument boils down to if you decide to like Elizabeth, we can go see Santa, and Santa wants you to like Elizabeth. First he should have validated her feelings. A little kid with a single father could very understandably be jealous of the father's girlfriend. Then after listening and validating, he should have explained that he loves Francoise and his relationship with Liz will do nothing to change that. Problem solved without giving Francoise any neuroses about competing for daddy's attention and feeling guilty about it.

Runners-up: Non Sequiter, the Piranha Club, Brevity, Red and Rover


Pearls Before Swine wins in a photo finish ahead of Get Fuzzy. Things to like about this cartoon: great visuals, gadzooks is a funny word, the names of the superheros, Pig's mild acceptance of his totally lame character. I loved this strip.

Runners-up: Speed Bump, Lio, Get Fuzzy (As is common in Get Fuzzy, the punchline is not that great, but the dialogue in the set-up is awesome. Satchel's line in panel one (I don't feel butterflies...that would be creepy) made me laugh out loud. Darby Conley must put a lot of effort into his strip. He has consistently great, detailed art, and witty dialogue in almost every panel)

Comics of the Day, Thursday

Worst: The set-up for this joke is terrible. I can't imagine anyone ever speaking the dialogue Hagar speaks in the first panel. And no one would ever tell their wife that they were flirting with a cute girl, except in some sort of anxious confession. I guess it fits because Hagar is supposed to be rude, but really, this joke fails on a lot of levels.

Runners-up: Close to Home, Red and Rover, Prickly City (Republicans are pure and virtuous, and Democrats are evil, I get it already), Mother Goose and Grimm (another bad joke with an awkward set-up)

Best: First, I enjoy the thought of a bewildered flamingo conservancy, so the baseline of humor in this strip is high. I like that Agnes fraternizes with some random drunk guy. I like Agnes' complete lack of a clue. I like Trout's complete lack of surprise at Agnes' lack of a clue.

Runner-up: Baby Blues

Comics of the Day Catch-up Post

So between Christmas decorating and work, I'm a little behind on my comics of the day. I'm going to try to catch up today.


As usual, a joke about technology falls flat. What does Tigger have to do with text messaging? What does TTFN stand for (I'm only 27, and I don't know)?

Runners-up: Frank and Ernest, Blondie (I still don't understand the joke), Baldo, Brevity, Red and Rover

Bonus Visual Runner-up:

Hagar the Horrible might be consistently the worst strip in the Post. It's become one of those strips that uses a one off joke each day. The characters have no personality to drive jokes with. The jokes are often incongruous with the setting. This strip really has no redeeming features to it right now, and it's probably time for it to be put out to stud.


Pastis does a good job explaining the human condition (although he probably just wanted to draw a rat with a napkin on her head). It's not a nice place inside any of us, and dealing with that is one of the major questions of human existence.

Runners-up: Watch Your Head (love the third panel), Candorville, Zits (I like that Connie comes out on top of this technological interaction for a change), Frazz, Big Nate (my little love huntress is a great, great pet name), Mutts

Bonus Visual Runner-up:

Today's Lio is a good example of what makes a strip work. The joke is driven by the character's personalities. The father has typical dreams of living vicariously through his son's athletic pursuits. Lio needs to deal with a monster. Another great thing about Lio is the question of fantasy or reality. Mark Tatulli, like Bill Watterson in Calvin and Hobbes, never resolves the question of what reality is. We are left to speculate whether the monster in the third panel is real, or solely in Lio's imagination.

Random Comic Note:

I work with kids, and this strip illustrates well one of the challenges of managing kids. Barry makes an inappropriate comment, but the father reacts to Curtis' reaction. Obviously, Curtis' reaction is inappropriate, but if the father had disciplined Barry for his comment, Curtis would likely be satisfied that justice had been served and could temper his reactions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Comics of the Day

Worst: Just plain creepy.

Runners-up: Prickly City, Non Sequitur, Mother Goose & Grimm, Red and Rover, Beetle Bailey


I enjoy the idea of bewildered flamingos.

Runners-up: Zits, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Comics of the Day


Brevity is one of the worst strips in the paper. It seems like Guy & Rodd choose some random topic (My other car is... bumper stickers!) and do whatever it takes to come up with a joke, no matter how little sense it makes.

Runners-up: Family Circus, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Mother Goose & Grimm, For Better or For Worse, Red and Rover


Another win for Agnes. The line about squirting out eggs clinched it for me. While you don't read Agnes for the art, I like how Tony Cochran expresses Trout's sarcasm with some well placed eye-rolling.

Runners-up: Sally Forth (the joke about paying someone not to play music is rather trite, but the song lyrics made me smile), Big Nate (Jenny's got quite a shove)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Comics of the Day

The visual in the last panel explains quite well why this is today's worst comic. I think I'm going to have nightmares about this.

Runners-up: Dennis the Menace (Grumpies!?, what the heck?), Family Circus, Garfield (the fourth and fifth panels are identical except for Jon's eyes, lazy, lazy, lazy), Prickly City, Rhymes with Orange, Blondie, Hagar the Horrible, Tank McNamara (bad attempt at being topical, and A-Rod could have gotten more money if he didn't sign so quickly with the Yankers, so it's wrong in addition to being not funny)


Pastis is on a roll. We've all had our share of mayday moments while dealing with girls. I love how Pig has absolutely no idea how to deal with this situation.

Runners-up: Cul de Sac (a consistently great strip, the timing on this particular one made me laugh), Opus , Sherman's Lagoon, Pickles (does anyone not repeat stories?)

Comics of the Day (belated Saturday edition)

The Spice Girls were popular when I was in high school. Elmo is five. The odds of him knowing who the Spice Girls are, or who David Beckham is must be non-existent. So it's a dumb joke, and it's awkwardly set up.

Runners-up: Red and Rover, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!, Speed Bump


I was actually a little moved by this strip. Stephan Pastis often includes short term characters who appear for a few jokes. Most disappear within a week, some stick around like effeminate vikings and the Crocs. Andy is my favorite new character in a while. He actually has personality; this isn't a joke, it's a character sketch. I just love Andy's unrelenting hope and I love the pathos Pastis imbues Andy with.

Bonus Visual Runner-up:
It took some serious deliberation to decide whether I liked Lio or Pearls Before Swine better today. I love the drawing of Lio laughing in the third panel. And the joke is better than the jokes in most of the one off joke strips.

Runners-up: Agnes, Lio

Friday, November 30, 2007

Comics of the Day

So is the joke that morons are likely to get stranded on desert isles, because that is the only way this makes any sense to me. Otherwise it's just the typical representation of evolution with the word morons attached. Maybe morons are funny, but probably not.

Runners-up: Red and Rover, Curtis, Rhymes with Orange, Candorville (Darrin Bell is capable of much wittier and relevant jokes about the quality of the media)

This comic wins a lot of points for the visual in the third panel, which I thought was cute. Otherwise it's the same joke Stephan Pastis has been riffing on all week, but no one else did better today really. And if you're going to use one joke all week, at least make it a good one, which Pastis usually does.

Runners-up: Watch Your Head, Dilbert, Agnes, Non-Sequiter

Other Comics notes: Dennis the Menace and Mother Goose and Grimm both have dumb jokes today, but I wanted to praise them for the visuals. Joey's expression and Attila stuck upside down in a Pringles can both amused me. This doesn't make up for the lame jokes, but at least they did something well.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


First, it's not a particularly funny joke, and like most jokes in the Circus, it's dependent on the kids being stupid. Second, I always find the split dialogue to be really awkward. Having part of the dialogue spoken in the art and part in the caption really ruins the timing for me. I suppose that's one of the challenges of a single panel strip.

Runners-up: None today, I felt everything was at least mediocre.


I liked today's Dilbert, which is unusual. The glory days of this strip are past I fear. I have a brother who reminds me of Wally in this cartoon. He's an engineer, and has limited fashion sense. So if he is doing something (for instance growing his hair long), it makes me reconsider that as a fashion possibility.

Runners-up: Lio, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! (I liked the visual), Pearls Before Swine

Random Note: The joke in Rhymes with Orange was bad as usual, but what saved this for me was the details in the visual. The torn up curtains and plant and the tally marks scratched in the wall were nice touches.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Comics of the Day

It took me awhile to figure out that the joke is Capt. Gizmo wants every gadget, no matter how ridiculous. So what you've got here is a bad joke, poorly presented.
Runners-up: Rhymes with Orange (would have been at least relevant three years ago), Family Circus (incredibly awful wording)

I like Agnes complete either ignorance or acceptance of Trout's sarcasm in the last panel. And the idea that maybe Agnes does not know that they are not on Madagascar
Runners-up: Lio (the squirrel reading the comic book almost won this one for Lio), Garfield

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The joke is lame; Garfield is a cat, of course he takes Jon's stuff. But what really sets this apart is the artwork, or lack thereof. Jim Davis (or his lackeys) have done is move Garfield's arms. There is no background, no change of expression, no effort at all to create any sort of interesting visual.

Runners up: Non-Sequiter, Piranha Club, On the Fast Track, Curtis, Hagar the Horrible


A surprise win today. It's nice to see one of the Foobs showing some sort of spirit. And April makes a good point about the composition of the crowd, and the self-important bubble the Mike and the other Pattersons live in.

Runners-up: Pooch Cafe (the relationship between Chazz and Carmen is really sweet), Agnes (I like the thought of Communists on the mean streets)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Comics of the Day


Modern art is less accessible than more traditional, representative art forms. Deal with it.

Runners-up: Tank McNamara, Agnes, Family Circus, Brevity


Watch Your Head is in the third tier of comics. The first tier is Get Fuzzy. The second tier consists of comics that are generally funny, cute, or thought provoking. The third tier is comics that are generally good, occasionally very good. I like this particular strip because of what it doesn't say. We're left to speculate about what circumstances would make a college student marry Tina Turner. I really like the first panel also. I enjoy way Jason invites his roommate to his wedding in a completely off-hand manner.

Runners-up: Pooch Cafe, Pearls Before Swine

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Comics of the Day (On time edition!!!)


This is basically a visual strip, but the visual is very poorly drawn. I stared at this this for several minutes before I realized that Jeremy's cheeks had stretched out. Even when I got the joke, it isn't very funny. And what is up with the phrase "math cheeks?" A bad strip all around, which is unusual for Zits, as it's generally closer to the good end of the spectrum.
Runners up: Mother Goose & Grimm, Red and Rover, Family Circus, For Better or For Worse, Dennis the Menace (Calvin and Hobbes did this same joke, only much better; it's sad when you're ripping off a strip that's younger than your own)
Very much a role reversal today. Zits, which is generally good, wins worst, Beetle Bailey, which is usually bad, wins best. This strip is a little awkward, because you would expect the garbage dump to stink, and because I have a hard time picturing any of my grandparents saying "don't go there," but the punchline was cute, and the competition wasn't very stiff today.
Runners Up: Single and Looking & Agnes (both way cooler than my Halloween costume), Non-Sequiter (if Danae weren't about ten and a comic strip character, I would marry her), Frank and Ernest

Comics of the Day (belated Monday edition)


The premise is that guys are dumb enough to poke dangerous animals.

Runner up: Close to Home


I love Lio because of the expressiveness of the art. By eliminating the dialogue, Mark Tatulli forces himself to become even more expressive with his pictures. The moths coming out of the wallet are what really grabbed my attention.

Runner up: Sally Forth (I am loving the Ted stands up to Sally's mom storyline)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Comics of the Day (belated Sunday edition)

Lots of candidates for the worst strip on Sunday but the winner is

because nothing's funnier than innapropriate jokes about fat people. Hagar the Horrible is a close runner-up for perpetuating the horrible opera stereotype.
Runner ups: Hagar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus (you'll see this one here a lot)


I loved this strip on a lot of levels. First the question "Do you mind if I bemoan my fate?" might be the awesomest question ever. Second, the classification of people into haikus or limericks is brilliant. Third, I am a gentle haiku in love (but I'm recovering!) with a dirty limerick. Fourth, Trout's attitude toward Agnes (taking everything in stride) is a great representation of the fun dynamic of friendship that they have. The strip basically contains three really fun, awesome lines.

Runners up: Lio (this strip reminds me of the serial composers...ask me why sometime), Get Fuzzy (should lose points for having four static panels, but the artwork is so good Darby Conley can usually get away with it), Cul-de-Sac, Doonesbury (I think I related to it because we do this type of reframing a lot with the kids I work with)

Private vs. Public

The Post on Sunday included an article about Como Elementary School in Mississippi, which included the following:
About 25 percent or more of the population is white, but only a handful of whites -- about 1 percent -- attend the public schools. Many instead attend Magnolia Heights, a private academy.
Como Elementary's student body is 99 percent black, and most of the students live in poverty, many in tattered mobile homes.

Magnolia Heights seems like a nice school. Most kids go on to college, they seem to have a lot of extra curricular activities, a lot of parental involvement, including a planned giving campaign that pays for things like new computers and upgraded sports facilities, and the school is very white. Magnolia Heights was founded in 1970. School desegregation in Mississippi began (after years of stalling by any tactic available) began in 1970.

I don't disagree with private schools in theory, but part of the reason Como Elementary is the worst school in the country (the premise of the article), is almost certainly related to the fact that so many concerned, active parents are drained out of the public schools by Magnolia Heights and other private schools. It is unjust for parents to pull their children, and by extension their time and energy, from public schools because of school quality. It is better to solve the problem than to enable it with your behavior.

Of course it's easy for me to get on my soapbox when I don't have any kids, and don't have to wrestle with this incredibly tough decision myself.


Being in the 18% of Evangelical Christians who did not vote for George Bush in 2004, I find the intersection of religion and politics to be fascinating. My faith is deeply entwined with my politics, but unlike many Christians, I refuse to let one or two hot button issues define the morally correct side of politics. I do wish we could lessen the number of abortions (although I believe making it illegal is a very foolish way to do this), but this one issue does not make the Republicans a Christian party. Issues of justice (poverty, pollution's disproportionate affect on the poor and people of color, the marginalization of groups of people (the poor, people of color, gay or transgendered people, women), general environmental quality, an end to violence) are major religious issues too. Michelle Boorstein does an excellent job summarizing the discontent with the GOP in the article:
Pollsters and political scientistssay some religious voters who supported Bush now feel discouraged, either by the war in Iraq , or by the rich-poor gap, or because they feel he didn't go far enough on the hot-button social issues they cared about, such as abortion and gay marriage. And new issues have risen in importance for religious voters that are not seen as GOP priorities, such as the environment.

Comics of the Day (belated Saturday edition)

One of the features I hope to include regularly is the Best and Worst Comics of the day. I tracked for my own personal edification for a month last year, and found the exercise very fascinating. It made me take a more critical look at the comics, it made me realize how good or bad some comics are, and it was fun. Some ground rules: only comics published in the Post count, only comics that attempt to be humorous count (so no Judge Parker, Spider-Man or Mark Trail, which aim to be serious; no Zippy the Pinhead, which aims to be weird).


The reason I hate this current series in Mother Goose & Grimm is that it is based on an outdate cultural reference. I had to look up who Leonna Helmsley was, and I'm generally a very literate person who gets a lot of outdated references. The number of people under thirty who know who Leonna Helmsley was must be very small, and this ruins the joke. If it were Paris Hilton's dog, it would at least be accessible and kind of relevant (although still a waste of news print).

Runners Up: Close to Home (bad joke, worse art), Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, For Better or For Worse (overdone sentimentality)


I'm torn on this one. Get Fuzzy had the best joke (might as well give liberals boxing gloves), although as usual, it was not the punch line but a throw away line in the middle of the strip. Pooch Cafe made me smile, although the joke is not exactly sophisticated. I think the just checking punchline expressed the idea behind the strip perfectly. But I really just liked Mutts today. I don't normally enjoy Mutts overdone cuteness, but this one was nice. Maybe because I'm in a position where I wish love could bloom between to generally incompatible people.

Runners Up: Get Fuzzy, Pooch Cafe

Quote of the Day (belated Saturday edition)

One of seven children born to a minister and a baker, Nuamah never studied dance; no one did in Ghana, she said. She simply copied traditional dances and made up her own, earning several dance competition titles.

"It was pure talent," she said. "When you're good, you're good."

I absolutely loved this quote by Kukuwa Nuamah, for the total lack of humility displayed. Having said the same thing about my intelligence, I can understand where she's coming from. An honest assessment of your talent does not preclude humility. Humility is more displayed in your actions and your attitudes towards others. I am smarter than most people, that does not make me better than them. Nuamah is a better dancer than most people, that does not make her better than them.

Metapost: The Beginning

The purpose of this project is to provide an outlet for writing, a way to polish the writing skills I haven't really used since college. I grew up reading the Washington Post, and it seemed like a good way to structure my writing. I will post when I post, although the goal is to write enough to make this project worth while. Enjoy.